Nokia’s been facing an uphill battle for relevance in the consumer space ever since the company threw in the towel on smartphones. Wearables seemed like a reasonable road, so the company snapped up French electronics company Withings back in 2016, phasing out the name a year later and rebranding itself Nokia Health.
Of course, the past year has seen much of the air escape from wearables, and the company’s clearly feeling that pinch. In a statement today, Nokia admits that it’s doing some serious soul searching. The actual letter is brief and full of corporate speak, but it paints a company going through some serious growing pains.
“Nokia today announces that it has initiated a review of strategic options for its Digital Health business,” it says in the statement. Then things get a bit more wishy washy. “The strategic review of the Digital Health business may or may not result in any transaction or other changes. Any further announcements about the Digital Health business will be made if and when appropriate.”
As far as what that actually means in the short term, Reuters points out that the company plans to cut at least 425 jobs in Finland this year. It’s a fraction of the 6,300 people it employs in its home country (not to mention the nearly 103,000 worldwide), but its a pretty clear indication of a company looking for the right track.
Once a global leader in mobile, the company failed to embrace the smartphone revolution, selling to Microsoft, which then shuttered the whole thing entirely. Of course, the Nokia name is back in the smartphone space, but that comes under a licensing deal through HMD — a company founded by former execs from the company. Interestingly, recent numbers show that the brand has actually been doing pretty well.
Wearables, on the other hand, have stagnated, forcing brands to exit the space, sell or shutter entirely. The herd has thinned over the past year, and even top names like Fitbit have struggled to keep their head above water. For Nokia, acquiring a company like Withings no doubt seemed like a quick way to hit the ground running — but the timing was rough on this one.
Hopefully this doesn’t mark the end of the Withings/Nokia Health line, which made some really solid and innovative devices.